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what makes a good shoe and why they cost so much - Page 4

post #46 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by janne melkersson View Post
Working as a shoemaker I want to add that in my mind I hope the reason for order a pair of good costly shoes would be more then about durability and methods! I know very well that high end factories as those mentioned here can make durable shoes of good quality and I don't think that none of them are stitching their soles aloft. I am pretty sure they bury the stitches into the sole in one way or another even though some of them don't cover the stitches with a flap of leather. Some years ago I visited J.L. factory in Northampton and a guy took me to a tour around the factory. I was impressed by the the way they made their shoes. They where using top grade leather and I couldn't see anything that I would like to complain about so if it is about durability I think they are all fine. I hope the reason for buying stuff that is made by makers in the West End area of London or D.W. in Oregon or perhaps me up north in Sweden is to get something that the factories can not offer i.e. a product that is made specifically for the client. The durability will of course be there too as the fit will be. And not to forget the personal contact with the maker which hopefully will last over many years. I read about the English motorcycle manufacturer Vincent HRD that their motto where "our m.c. are made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts" I think that motto is what keep this "good costly shoe" trade running. Well, just my thoughts for what they are worth.
Thank you Janne. One of the points I made... twice in the essay--at the beginning and at the end--is not why customers choose shoes or a particular brand, as much as why shoemakers have, over centuries, chosen one particular technique over another. The customer can be focused on, and interested in, all kinds of peripheral and incidental concerns--such as the uniqueness of a shoe and the relationship with the shoemaker, even the price...but any good craftsman, artisan, shoemaker is going to be concerned with the quality of his work and that implies durability (for lack of a better word to describe longevity and integrity.) Like you, I made my remarks from the perspective of a shoemaker and that implies a different set of priorities than someone who only has an off-the-shelf budget or a retail taste.
post #47 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

The bottom line is, and I think it is worth repeating and remembering--it costs...even manufacturers...nothing to cut a channel in the outsole and embed the stitches. Nothing!

I'm confused ... if it costs nothing why dont they all do channelled soles??
post #48 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by kev777 View Post
I'm confused ... if it costs nothing why dont they all do channelled soles??
Maybe that's why we have handgrade and benchgrade shoes? Not sure if it is a pricing/quality differentiation
post #49 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post
OP, thanks for your insight. Since you've been making points about durability, what is your opinion on adding a rubber topy to the sole of a leather shoe? And how about rubber soles in general?

First of all - DWFII, thank you very much for this extremely informative thread! As referenced above, I would like to hear your opinion on rubber topys/robber soles too.
post #50 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kev777 View Post
I'm confused ... if it costs nothing why dont they all do channelled soles??
It costs nothing but it risks much. First, it does require some skill, and it does require some focus. And if skill or focus are lost it can result in a ruined shoe. I've met guys who could stitch....machine stitch...around a sole in their sleep dropping stitches into a channel consistently. I'm good, maybe not that good but good and I understand the process. But it is not foolproof. Factories want foolproof. If you will bear with me I would like to post an excerpt from an essay i wrote some years ago on a bespoke boot and shoemaking forum that I run. I think it is apropos: "One of the aspects of all of this that has been an "issue" with me for as long as I can remember, is what I call the "factory mentality" that seems to pervade almost every aspect of modern life--from what we eat and how it is produced and delivered to us, to the entertainment choices that we typically make. And of course, that mentality not only affects shoemaking but, in my opinion, tends to undermine every aspect of what we consider "quality." If a maker decides...for whatever reason--personal standards of quality, expediency, or even necessity--that celastic toe boxes are acceptable, would it not be reasonable to assume that using celastic (or something like it) for heels stiffeners would also be OK? If fiberboard "cottages" (shank covers) are reasonable, why not fiberboard heel stacks...or even fiberboard insoles? If cement sole construction meets a standard of durability and...logic...why not moulded sole construction? If tacks (in the heelseat and shank area) are the logical choice (versus hand stitching), why not staples? It's a slippery slope. Each of the aforementioned techniques originated in a factory context and the over-arching reason for implementing every single one of them was to cut costs or replace time consuming and/or hard to master skills. In each case, implementing one led to implementing the next...and the next. And each of these techniques can be seen in...indeed they are almost the hallmark of...common, post WWII, mass-manufactured, commercial footwear...at almost any price point. If we adopt techniques and materials such as these we, in effect, surrender to the "factory mentality"...because the only valid reasons to do so are the very same ones that motivated the factories themselves--the "bottom line." Time is money; skilled workers command higher wages. Money, money, money. On the face of it, such considerations might not seem unreasonable but, from a purely economic point of view, they are nearly suicidal for the "bespoke" maker because they put us in direct competition with the factories. Whether we like it or not. But few of us will ever buy leather or other materials in the kind of freight car quantities that result in train loads of savings. Nor will many of us put out 50,000 pair a day, week or month--the kind of quantities that allow for realistic price competition. And if the old ways and the reasons for doing them are lost and our "custom" shoes become fundamentally indistinguishable from factory shoes, shouldn't they then be priced accordingly?"
post #51 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by Groover View Post
The channel does offer protection for the stitching, but only for a finite length of time...

...I'm more than happy with the quality of my Church's, C&Js, Grenson's, Cheaney's et all and they've all got stitched aloft soles. Typically a channelled sole shoe from an English manufacturer will come on a higher grade (RTW) shoe, Edward Green, John Lobb etc, and as we know those shoes come at a premium (bespoke even more), which not everyone can afford.

Would we like to see channelled soles on all English made shoes? Sure. Reality and economics for the companies involved unfortunately dictates otherwise. To dismiss them out of hand is wrong in my opinion, they're priced at a region which makes them more affordable and will last many years if cared for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by janne melkersson View Post
I know very well that high end factories as those mentioned here can make durable shoes of good quality and I don't think that none of them are stitching their soles aloft. I am pretty sure they bury the stitches into the sole in one way or another even though some of them don't cover the stitches with a flap of leather.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
If done correctly, a hand cut outsole channel will embed the stitches roughly one-third to one-half the thickness of the outsole. So, it begs the question...how much protection for the stitches do you want when you pay top dollar for a pair of shoes? Half of the substance before the stitches begin to be abraded...or instantaneous tearing, fraying and loss of integrity?

*DWF, I edited your post above and replaced outsole where you had written insole. I think that's what you meant to write.

I'll add that a RTW shoe with concealed stitching is not necessarily more durable than one with stitched aloft soles. A good example of this is Tricker's; by their own admission, the channel is cut rather shallow on their soles and it doesn't take long for the stitches to become visible on their channelled soles, once you've worn through the flap. On the other hand, I have shoes with stitched aloft soles where the stitching, while visible, is buried several mm deep into the sole (one-third to one-half the thickness of the outsole), such that it takes quite some wear before the stitches become abraded. Sure, a flap would offer some extra protection, but how much? The question is how much more durable is a sole with concealed stitching vs. one with stitched aloft soles if you take away all other factors, i.e., that the channel is cut at the same depth for both. Fwiw, I've worn down soles past the actual stitching and not had them fall apart. Aren't the multiple layers of outsole leather glued on top of each other prior to stitching?
post #52 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by duration View Post
First of all - DWFII, thank you very much for this extremely informative thread! As referenced above, I would like to hear your opinion on rubber topys/robber soles too.
In a hurry... I won't put rubber soles on my shoe or boots. Period. I think it compromises the structural integrity of the shoe too much. Topy: I use it, I admire it, and I think if it is done correctly it is at least comforting to the customer. I would never use it on my own shoes. Personal opinion...your mileage may vary.
post #53 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
In a hurry... I won't put rubber soles on my shoe or boots. Period. I think it compromises the structural integrity of the shoe too much.

Topy: I use it, I admire it, and I think if it is done correctly it is at least comforting to the customer. I would never use it on my own shoes.

Personal opinion...your mileage may vary.

What do you think of these rubber soled shoes?


BTW, I have always wanted a pair of good crepe soled shoes.
post #54 of 232
Thanks again to DWF for this great thread. I'd like to follow on the rubber-sole question: 1) Why does it hurt the structural integrity of the shoe to build in a rubber sole? Does the rubber respond differently to the stresses of wear over time, such that it and the interspersed leather develop differently and tend to pull apart? Or is it something else. 2) I have bum knees. My doctor strongly counsels rubber soles; but he is a doctor not a cordwainer. In your view can leather-soled shoes provide comparable shock absorption to rubber, and if so what might look for in RTW or ask for in bespoke to get closest to the shock absorbtion of rubber? (I aspire to bespoke but it's not happening soon on my budget). Thanks again for sharing your insights. I have learned a ton from this thread.
post #55 of 232
Great thread. Very informative and interesting read. Thanks!
post #56 of 232
Even though I have nothing to say or ask (because I don't know better), but replying to this thread is, and should be, mandatory. Respect.
post #57 of 232
Interesting thread, learned a few things. Thanks.
post #58 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wes Bourne View Post
*DWF, I edited your post above and replaced outsole where you had written insole. I think that's what you meant to write. I'll add that a RTW shoe with concealed stitching is not necessarily more durable than one with stitched aloft soles. A good example of this is Tricker's; by their own admission, the channel is cut rather shallow on their soles and it doesn't take long for the stitches to become visible on their channelled soles, once you've worn through the flap. On the other hand, I have shoes with stitched aloft soles where the stitching, while visible, is buried several mm deep into the sole (one-third to one-half the thickness of the outsole), such that it takes quite some wear before the stitches become abraded. Sure, a flap would offer some extra protection, but how much? The question is how much more durable is a sole with concealed stitching vs. one with stitched aloft soles if you take away all other factors, i.e., that the channel is cut at the same depth for both. Fwiw, I've worn down soles past the actual stitching and not had them fall apart. Aren't the multiple layers of outsole leather glued on top of each other prior to stitching?
Thank you very much for the editing...I'm such a poor typist that I sometimes spend more time editing than commenting and when I'm in a hurry I make mistakes that I don't have time to clean up. I have a student currently and my time is not my own. Technically one could say that grooved outseams are not really "stitching aloft." But, admittedly, this is a better solution than leaving the stitches completely exposed and proud on the surface of the outsole. But in the end, it is still only a compromise--a sop to those who cavil endlessly about quality and durability and value. Bottom line, the threads are still exposed to dirt, grit oils and dirty water...immediately. A grooved outseam will wear faster than a properly channeled (even machine channeled) outsole. Even a vertical channel is somewhat exposed, however, esp. when compared to a properly side channeled outsole. Why? Because the edge of the side channeled outsole is not only glued shut, it is heat burnished to drive waxes into the fibers of the outsole...so it is double sealed. Questions and observations such as yours are useful as they engage a certain critical facility that, in turn, promotes (or tends to promote) objectivity. A previous poster asked why don't all companies channel the outsole if it costs nothing? But that's asking the wrong question. The real question is why do bespoke makers...who are the torch-bearers of the centuries old traditions, tradition that arose and persisted through .countless makers and years of evolution...why do bespoke makers insist on channeling? It reminds me of something I read recently...(something or other Modisett)...let's see if I can summarize: It wasn't all that long ago that the word "discriminate" referred to the ability to bring a certain intellectual acuity to decisions and choices. Especially choices that affected survivability, prosperity, even personal comfort. To be "discriminating" was a mark of distinction and was high praise indeed. Today, in an atmosphere of intransigent political correctness, the word "discriminate" has not only lost its original meaning, it has become so imbued with negative connotations that even the act of choosing is suspect. Discrimination is a social sin and to a very real extent, even recognizing a hierarchy of "good, better, best" is considered elitist and "disrespectful. " Under such a regime, it is inevitable that even objective standards of quality come to be devalued or dismissed--iIf you think about it, it is almost a predetermined progression. When it becomes "disrespectful" to point out that certain processes, certain techniques, and certain outcomes are superior to other outcomes, etc....especially when logic and reasons for such assessments are provided and detailed...then the whole concept of quality becomes nearly incomprehensible if not ludicrous. And what is "style" if not recognizing quality and hierarchies of quality?
post #59 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dopey View Post
What do you think of these rubber soled shoes? BTW, I have always wanted a pair of good crepe soled shoes.
Ha! Mea culpa! All I can say is that I regard natural plantation crepe as significantly different from petro-chemical based rubber. Functionally, it is much easier on a shoe and of course environmentally...well, I won't belabour the point except to ask people to consider what happens to the abraded grit and dust that comes off a rubber outsole. Where are the bacteria that can degrade these invisible (telling, isn't it?)
post #60 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Technically one could say that grooved outseams are not really "stitching aloft." But, admittedly, this is a better solution than leaving the stitches completely exposed and proud on the surface of the outsole. But in the end, it is still only a compromise--a sop to those who cavil endlessly about quality and durability and value. Bottom line, the threads are still exposed to dirt, grit oils and dirty water...immediately. A grooved outseam will wear faster than a properly channeled (even machine channeled) outsole.

Even a vertical channel is somewhat exposed, however, esp. when compared to a properly side channeled outsole. Why? Because the edge of the side channeled outsole is not only glued shut, it is heat burnished to drive waxes into the fibers of the outsole...so it is double sealed.

Lots of good info here ^. I think what most members call stitched aloft outsoles are what you call grooved outseams, where the (visible) stitching is recessed/sunken lower than the surface of the outsole. I was surprised to learn that the flap on a fully channeled sole could be closed by (the same) machine that does the stitching. I had thought that that operation was only done by hand. What is a side channeled outsole?
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